I recently represented Art Clay World USA at a small Conference in Ft. Wayne, IN, Annie’s Craft Festival. It was touted as a Sewing/Quilting/Fabric/Paper/Decorating festival, with vendors, etc. Art Clay World USA has been trying to break into new territory, new niches, and we thought this might be the one. There were supposed to be paper crafts there and cake decorating, and since Art Clay World USA sells molds and stamps, we thought it might be a way of meeting new potential customers. Ft. Wayne is only 2 1/2 hours away, much closer than most of the trade shows we attend. So, we packed up way too much merchandize, trying to anticipate what people might want.
From an economic standpoint, it was a bust. The majority of attendees were knitters, crocheters, yarn people, quilters, etc. That doesn’t mean people weren’t fascinated by metal clay or what we had, but we hadn’t correctly identified what people were interested in. As a matter of fact, if we had stuck with metal clay we probably would have done better, since all those fabric people WERE interested in unique, home made buttons and toggles, which metal clay could have provided them.
At any rate, while I was wandering around I came upon a unique booth. It represented the North American Quilling Guild. Not ‘quilting,’ but ‘quilling,’ that old traditional craft of rolling up narrow strips of paper and forming them into miraculous works of art. Immediately my eyes lit up, because, as you might know, I’ve been using Art Clay Paper Type to quill jewelry for several years. I showed them some pictures of my jewelry and they showed me pictures of what their small organization was all about. As you might expect, the idea of using the technique to make fine silver jewelry was unknown to them and they were very excited to learn more.
I bring this up not so much because this new contact is exactly what I had been looking for—a new group of people totally unaware of metal clay and its possibilities, but because in finding this small, very highly specialized medium, I realized something else.
If you go to http://www.naqg.org, you will find one of the most organized group websites I’ve ever visited. It has everything one needs if interested in that medium. History, Board of Directors, how you can get involved, resources, members, how to join, etc. I learned that there are probably only 60-80 people at their conferences, but that they are successful and serve the purpose for which they exist.
And I thought, “That’s what we should have. An organization that we can participate in, and be a part of.”
The new organization, IMPACT, is a good start. I’m hoping, ultimately, that the metal clay community at large can have more of a say in the direction that we take in the future and expand our activities to include a Conference.
What kills organizations is lack of participation. If we have enough members, then what each of us has to do is minimal. I would like to see us thrive, grow and be an organization we can be proud of. Holly and her team have done an extraordinary job in creating IMPACT. It’s up to each of us to join and participate. If the North American Quilling Guild can be successful, then I’m certain that IMPACT can be as well.